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    Jun 05, 2016

    Such Faith!

    Such Faith!

    Passage: Luke 7:1-11

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    Series: Signs and Wonders - The Healing Stories of Jesus

    Category: Faith

    Keywords: authority, faith, grace, healing, miracle

    Jesus healed a Roman centurion's servant from afar. This story has a lot to say about the centurion and about how awesomely broad and wide Jesus' grace really is!

    As I read this scripture several times and read commentaries on the text, I found myself thinking, Whew!  Now that’s faith!  I began to wonder if some of you would have that same reaction.  And then, because of a particularly well-written commentary by the President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, David Lose, I began to wonder if some of us would get lost in the story or in the sermon because we were worried that someone we love doesn’t have that kind of faith – or maybe no faith.  Someone for whom we are afraid.  

    Who was this guy, this centurion?

    He was a man in authority, a man who understood authority.  When he gave orders, he expected that the orders would be followed without question, just as he would follow the orders of his superiors without question.  He made it clear that he believed that if Jesus would just say the word – no hands, no oil, no drama – his servant would be healed. 

    And he was man of humility and practicality.  He didn’t expect Jesus to come to his home because he was an outsider – a Gentile who was part of the Roman occupation.  Even Jesus was surprised – actually, Luke said Jesus was amazed – that the centurion would ask for help.

    As far as we know, Jesus didn’t go to the house, but scripture says the young man was healed.  And that’s it.  We have no idea what came later.  There is no indication that the centurion became a follower of Jesus – and no indication that he didn’t.  There is no indication that he claimed the name of Jesus as the Lord of his life.  What the scripture tells us is that he needed someone with authority to heal his friend, and as Lose says, “Jesus praises his astounding faith and Luke records it.”[1]

    Jesus constantly showed us that faith is demonstrated in surprising ways in unexpected places. Jesus acted in so many surprising ways, showing love to and praising unexpected people in unexpected places.  He broke a lot of the rules of loving and healing.  So, here’s the question for today:  how in the world can we limit the power and grace of God by judging that this one or that one isn’t living a life of faith because their faith practice does not mirror our own?

    With Dr. Lose, for just a moment, imagine that someone you care about who doesn’t go to church or doesn’t believe quite as you do “is also beloved of God, that [he or she] is also being used by God to do good things, that this person may demonstrate faith that even Jesus would commend. Untold numbers of [active Christians and church members] have family members and friends whose relationship to the church is sketchy at best and about the only thing they hear about these folks is from the most conservative quarters of the church saying that if these folks don’t believe they’ll go to hell.”[2]

    Friends, it’s just not up to us to make that kind of judgment.

    So, what if today we pray a prayer of thanksgiving for these folks?  The folks we don’t always see in worship but whom we love deeply and without reserve.  I’ll leave a few spaces in the prayer today for you to fill in some names – my guess is that we all have names we’d like to fill in those spaces!  And we’ll pray that you and I have the good grace and courage to commend their good works to God and to share with them now and then our own conviction that God uses them to show us grace and love.

    Grace is usually a surprise.  I pray that we are all open enough to see where God’s grace shows up – perhaps especially through someone whose perspective and spirit don’t conform to our own!

    [1] David Lose.

    [2] Ibid.